Category Archives: weekly photo challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Local Faces

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South Africa has many faces, all of them local and all of them precious. In Cape Town the mood is light and smiles welcome you, inviting you to come in.

IMG_0218.JPGIn the Kalahari, !Oushe is more serious as he imparts age-old wisdoms to a boy on the verge of manhood.IMG_0288_edited-1.jpgHis name is Kobus, and he’s preparing the snoek – fresh from the cold Atlantic – for a family feast in Namaqualand.

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The descendents of the original Nama people are proud of their heritage. You’ll never get lost in this arid landscape: the Riemvasmakers are all too keen to spoil you with unselfish hospitality and will gladly point out the right route to your destination.IMG_4739.JPG

You’ll find Sefanja in the middle of nowhere, where his neat little ‘garage’ is constructed of sticks, stone and wire. Whistling an age-old tune, he can fix a punctured tyre in no time. IMG_5712.JPGThe best, most famous ‘face’ of South Africa, is quite possibly not human at all. No matter where or what or how you are right now, this is the picture that tells you where ‘home’ is. It is timeless and precious, friendly and welcoming, and it’ll always invite you in.

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Morning Olympics

In the quest for Olympic gold, Africa must be a favourite for the Breaking of Day competition….

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Her sunrises can be fast or slow, gradual or intense – but always a small miracle of nature.

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Animals know that dawn will conquer night’s darkness, announcing the new day.

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On the banks of rivers, birds will sing their praises, celebrating, calling, chirping in the misty light filtering through the haze.

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And man will, like he must, rekindle last night’s embers to brew a mug of coffee.

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Others aren’t so spoilt – a long, cool, drink will slake that night-thirst just as well.

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Jep…Africa should be assured of a podium finish – even the King thinks so.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Cherry on Top

He’s been walking for a day-and-a-half; if he doesn’t find water, the desert would have won. But…he knows the area and he knows the tradition of his people. If only he could see their marker, he’d be alright.

Ah…there it is!

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To a stranger, it’s just a heap of twigs. Nothing to stand out in the barren wilderness. He knows better…

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First, he’ll thank the unknown man who did this. Then, carefully and with the necessary respect, he’ll remove the camouflage.

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Uncovering the hidden treasure needs time and patience. Breaking the egg would be disastrous.

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Is it dry? Has the water evaporated? Noo…there it is – the cherry on top! Cool, clear, water.

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Now he has to do the right thing: find the man who hid the water, thank him…and then fill up the ostrich egg again.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons

IMG_5759Life starts off with promises and dreams, unlimited horizons and infinite potential.

a2This, however, is an illusion. Life is a vast and lonely place – a series of individual challenges that’ll test even the most courageous to the utmost limits.a5At last, having survived the seasons of drought and plenty, the realisation dawns: Hope, Love and Faith are choices and not guaranteed in any way. Life is, in fact, what actually happened while we were making other plans.a4And then we take note of failures and mishaps and unfortunate events – all of these steering us to abandon wild dreams and false promises.

Somewhere between the illusive mansion of expectation and the ruins of reality, contentment awaits. Satisfied with so much less but with the firm belief that the best is yet to come, we soldier on bravely.188_8855Until, with the comfort of a faithful companion, we look back at the seasons of our lives – remembering the successes and failures. It’s been quite a journey but worth every drop of sweat, every tear, along the way. This is the season too – because we finally understand  – we are able to embrace the unlimited horizons and infinite potential that were promised in the beginning.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Optimism…

Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. – Nelson Mandela.

This is true, especially in Africa, where the sun is such a prominent presence. But it cuts deeper than merely the physical, doesn’t it?

c2Mothers guard their young with  worried frowns. What about tomorrow? What dangers lurk in the shadows of the night? How shall I manage?IMG_4786The young bachelor is lost and lonely – will he find that special someone, that ultimate mate to share his life with? How does one go about it? How to avoid the many mistakes waiting in the future? And…will he be good enough to match what she has to offer?

IMG_4846Camouflaged in the desert, the chameleon might well ask what has happened to the trees? His family has it so good, so easy – and he has to make do with so little. Does that mean he didn’t make the grade; that he is being punished for something? The pessimist is prone to depression –  will he give up, surrender, and slink away to mope in the vast empty space around him?

IMG_5000a.jpgIndeed, Life regularly seems to turn her back to us, leaving us wondering what it’s all about.

IMG_5116aWith so many predators around, any single individual becomes prone to doubt. Life seems to blur as we tend to consider the problems bigger than the solutions. Is there – when all is said and done – any sense in going on? Should one not just wallow in the profound pessimism that surrounds us, give up…and die?

IMG_4670But then – oh, the bliss! – we look up at the sun and don’t get blinded by its rays. For look, there is the promise; the rainbow; bringing hope. It lures us on and on, for no matter how heavily pessimism weighs us down, it’s darkness can never outshine the brightness of hope.

In the words of Helen Keller – arguably the epitome of optimism and an example to us all: “Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.”

 

Weekly Phot Challenge: Lioness vs Gravity

“I am,” the lioness said, “the queen of all around me. I rule supreme. In fact, I get to choose where I sleep, and nobody – and nothing – will disturb my well-earned rest.”110_1026

Right then, a big, ripe marula fell on to her head. The lioness looked around in surprise.

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“What..who..dared do that? I said no disturbance! In plain English! What can be unclear about that?” (Growl!!!)

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“It’s called gravity, you stupid. What goes up, must come down. It’s true for everything, even for lionesses with an ego problem.” The long-suffering lion was bemused, to say the least.

110_1028The lioness asked her sister, who said the same thing. “And don’t always argue with our husband. You may be queen, but he is the king. Come on down and stop making a fool out of yourself.”

110_1030 “Oh, all right. I’ll come down, but not because of a stupid law of nature. I’ll come down – regally – because I want to.”

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“Oh don’t be such a sourpuss,” the sister scolded the disgruntled lioness. “Come, I’ve got our husband’s Master Card and I’ve just returned from the spa. Why don’t we do some retail therapy? I saw some Impala nearby…”

IMG_5444The lion was much saddened when he heard that. Bank balances, he knew, were just like Marulas. And his dear lioness, much like gravity. His balance was going to go one way…down!

Photo Challenge: Transitional Normality.

We all start life filled with hopeand innocence. Oh, parents mean well, don’t they? But how can anyone prepare a child to live in a world where hope and innocence are so easily lost? Teaching a child to be a ‘normal’ member of society often leads to a life of pretence – you have to act, speak, talk and exercise your choices in an ‘acceptable’ manner; denying the instinct to be an individual with unique characteristics.

t1We grow up, losing much along the way. And then we get to that point in the woods, where the two roads diverge, just like Robert Frost promised it would…

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‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth…’

t3Of course we choose one…expecting to find rest, comfort, good fortune…and possibly, Love. That is, after all, the promise of ‘normality’…isn’t it?

t2Sadly, all too often these dreams are shattered by the thorny seat we eventually find ourselves in. Here the dreams of a quiet life, ‘normal’ relationships and peace are shattered by the reality of the outcome of our choices. Pretending to be content, just isn’t good enough any more.

IMG_2528That’s when we begin to realise: ‘normal’ doesn’t mean a thing. It’s time to shun pretence and follow the heart. If it raises a few eyebrows, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter at all.

t5And then, having lost so much and found so little – we start afresh: finding happiness in simplicity; hope in reality and love in the most unexpected place. Love isn’t out there, waiting for us to find it; love has all along been  inside us; the sad  prisoner of pretence. Only once those walls are shattered, can we reclaim the hope and innocence we were born with. That’s when we dance on sunshine…

Weekly Photo Challenge: African Treat with Italian Flare.

Africa is the world’s best Treat Continent, without any doubt. The variety of surprises – the whole spectrum of them – is enough to lure you back again and again. A typical day on a recent trip serves as an example.

t1The road seemed to go on and on – a never ending strip of gravel through an endless terrain. No rushing here: a mishap might leave you stranded for days.

t3The desert gave way to stunted bush as the sun set. A lonely giraffe ignored us as we drove past. How far to go still? The map wasn’t of much help. The other question involved the camping site: what was it like? Booking a place where you’ve never been remains a risk, especially in Africa… But, bone tired and hungry, we pressed on.

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Oh. My. Word!!! Was that the ablution block? A long-drop and bucket ensemble to freshen up after a day like that?

t2Well, set up camp, clean up, get the fire going, and then consider the options. There’s a lodge not far away – maybe we could take our chances and enquire about having dinner there? Two beers later, the decision was made. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

x6And…surprise! At Shakawe Mario turned out to be the best pizza-maker in Africa! Imported from Italy, he did his heritage proud. What a meal – what a treat!

And that’s the treat of Africa. Forrest Gump’s famous line rings true here: Life is like a box of chocolates….

Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place

A happy place?  Why, that’s easy. To get there, might not be such a breeze. The first step is to find a place somewhere off the beaten track and to plan the  trip. With all the preparations in place, it’s time to load up, leave the city behind and follow the map.

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If absolutely necessary, lodging along the way needn’t be luxurious. A fine little shelter at night is more than enough.

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Then onward, ever onward, deeper into the silent continent to find peace and solitude.

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The journey is half the fun. Take time to stop, enjoy a cold beer, and enjoy the surroundings.

h2At last. Pitch the tent, get the fire burning – night is approaching fast…

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It’s so simple, really. The crackle of a  late night fire, cold wine in a glass, and the roar of a faraway lion. An owl hooting overhead. Stars above.

And peace.

My happy place…